How the “Best Interest of the Child” Principle Affects Custody

The “best interest of the child” principle is a fundamental concept in family law that plays a significant role in determining child custody arrangements during divorce or separation proceedings.

In Missouri, child custody is awarded based on the “best interest of the child.” Unsurprisingly, this principle eludes first-time divorcees since the criteria to determine a child’s best interest are abstruse and dynamic. This is especially true with the recent change making 50-50 child custody agreements the default.

What Is the “Best Interest of the Child” Principle?

Simply put, the “Best Interests of the Child” principle stipulates that the child’s best interest takes priority in decisions regarding the subject matter. This principle applies to custody, guardianship, adoption, and maintenance. As mentioned, the criteria for determining the child’s best interest are dynamic, varying from case to case. So, what was deemed the child’s best interest in one case may not necessarily be so in another.

“Best Interest of the Child” Principal in Child Custody

Missouri courts prefer parents to work out custody arrangements independently without the court’s intervention. Parents can also hire an attorney or third-party mediator to help with the arrangements. The parents must then submit a parenting plan that they compiled individually or together for scrutiny by the court.

The court will intervene if both parents can’t come to an amicable agreement. This is where the “Best Interests of the Child” principle takes effect. The principle has no definite rules, but the law stipulates a guideline administration judges use to determine the child’s best interest. Some of these guidelines include:

  • The custody wishes of each parent
  • The child’s yearning for a profound relationship with both parents
  • The parent’s ability and will to perform their specific functions, roles, and responsibilities in the child’s life
  • The parent who is most likely to allow the child to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent
  • The child’s relationship with siblings, friends, and others in their closest circles
  • Each parent’s history of physical violence and abuse
  • The parents plan to relocate the child
  • How the child will adjust to schools, homes, and communities
  • The child’s custody wishes

A prevalent but ill-conceived notion in child custody hearings is that the mother has the edge over the father in custody hearings. This is far from the truth. The court doesn’t give custody preference based on sex, age, or financial status. The custody decision is based on the child’s interest and cooperation between the mother and father.

We Can Help You Win Custody of Your Child

Determining to win custody of your child will amount to nothing without proper legal representation. The “Best Interest of the Child” principle will favor you if a reputable divorce attorney can articulate your case. Contact The Betz Law Firm to discuss your case and legal options.

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